Mongols - History and Cultural Relations



Mongols were an insignificant northern tribe until the early thirteenth century. Under the leadership of Chinggis Khan they were transformed into a large nomadic segmentary state. Khubilai (Kublai) Khan established the Yuan dynasty (1260-1368) and shifted the political center of Mongolian power from Karakorum (near Ulan Bator) to northern China (near Beijing). Mongol power declined after the Mongol dynasty in China was overthrown in 1368.

The Manchus, who conquered China in 1644, divided Mongolian territory into the geographical regions of Outer Mongolia and Inner Mongolia. They also reorganized the Mongols into a banner administration system that bound Mongols to a specific locality, thereby effectively curtailing migration. The collapse of the Manchu (or Qing) dynasty in 1911 resulted in the formation of autonomous regions in Outer Mongolia and among the Bargas. As Russia fell into a civil war, China abolished the newly formed regions, and thereby provoked the formation of the first Mongolian political parties. In Feburary 1921 White Russians entered Outer Mongolia and drove out Chinese forces; in July 1921, the Russian Red Army drove out the Whites and installed a "constitutional monarchy." The MPR was officially formed in 1924-Khorloogiin Choibalsan and Sukhbaatar (in Russian, Suke Bator) formed and led the early Revolutionary party, and Choibalsan served from 1939 to 1952 as premier. In the 1930s the Japanese formed a new government (Meng-Jiang) in central Inner Mongolia, headed by the Mongolian prince Demchigdonggrub (Dewang). The Japanese army withdrawal in 1945 enabled Soviet-Mongolian military units to enter Inner Mongolia and Manchuria. It was not until after the Soviets had rejected political unification that the majority of Inner Mongolian leaders agreed to back the Chinese Communist party. The MPR and USSR have several long-term economic and "friendship" agreements. In 1987, the MPR established diplomatic relations with the United States.

The MPR is, ethnically, relatively homogeneous. The Kazaks, who live in the west, are the MPR's largest minority group (4 percent), followed by the Russian and Chinese urbanites (2 percent each). There was considerable resentment of Soviet domination of the MPR. The Soviet Union, however, was also regarded as a useful protector against China, as is its successor, the Russian Federation. Inner Mongolia is an ethnically diverse region. Ethnic relations between Mongols and Han Chinese continue to swing between mild antagonism and overt hostility. Most Mongols in the IMAR regard themselves as citizens of the PRC.


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